Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Traditional Christmas Post. . .

 So, I'm kinda torn with blogging lately.  On the one hand, it's our family journal, and there are so many things I want to remember.  (Plus, it's a good way for far away family to see what we're up to.)  On the other hand, there is still SO much to do at the new house right now, it's hard to take time to do anything else or focus on anything else.  (And we're only 9 days away from moving in!)  But, here we go - I'll try to keep it short and sweet. . . . for me.  hehe. 

Anna's "Holiday Sing", and Benjamin's preschool "Christmas program".  Auntie KC was able to make it to both of them.  So special.  (And Grampa Dewey was able to attend Anna's. . . and babysat Caleb during Ben's program since it was during his nap time.) 

It's become tradition to do a Christmas Eve Eve (23rd) get together with my side of the family.  As usual, delicious food and nice, relaxing "hanging out" time.  Anna and Ben-Ben loved their present from Gramma and Grampa, and they also loved playing with their cousins.  (Almost all of their cousins on this side are much older than them, but they're such sweeties and play with - or humor - Anna and Benjamin. :)

Christmas Eve we were at Chuck and Melissa's.  We feasted.  Oh my, it was soooooo good.  (Caleb's such an adorable feast-er, I had to include some pics.)

The Christmas puzzle!  Not quite the same this year with fewer numbers to work on it (Ash and Meg + families didn't come home for Christmas this year - we missed them!).  Luckily, it's become tradition for my sister and her crew to stop by on Christmas Eve, and they all LOVE working on the puzzle.  And since Chuck had knee replacement surgery on the 15th of this month, hopefully he'll have plenty of time to work on it too.   

There was more present opening, and playing with said presents.  Fun!
(Yes, Caleb got a walking toy from his Auntie, because he is STILL not walking.  hehe.  He'll get there.  He may be one of a few 13 month olds that recieved a walker as a gift. :)

Christmas morning.  Santa came!

Present opening continues.  Magical. 
(You know.  It seems that no matter how "simple" we keep it, there is just too much stuff.  Maybe one of these years we'll hit the right balance. :)

We all got cleaned up and ready for church.  (Caleb did too . . . in an adorable grey and red striped cardigan, but was sleeping during this pic.)  I sang "Oh Holy Night" in church, and it had been awhile since I'd sang a solo. 

That evening, after nap time (for Caleb and me), it was back to GramMelissa and Grampa Chuck's house for Christmas breakfast for dinner.  Delish.

***All of these Christmas celebrations were intermixed with going over to work on the house.  On Monday, Ethan didn't have to work and we spent the whole day sanding our floors.  The WHOLE day.  I was so sore after that, and am starting to get burnt out on house stuff.  Never again will I buy a house that is not "move in ready."  I know it will all be worth it in the end, but man, this is all turning out to be way more than I had initially thought.  And then we'll start the fun process of unpacking about a million boxes.  Ahhhhggghghhhghgh.  This is all so overwhelming.  I may just never move again once we're settled in here.  :)***  

So, I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!  And hope you have fun, safe New Year's celebrations! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

'Tis The Season To Be Jolly and Joyous . . .

Ginger bread houses!  I love that you can see how much they want to eat them in the last picture. hehe. 

Christmas party at church.  Even though Ben-Ben was nervous, he loved seeing Santa.  I loved the "family style" dinner we had. . . and Benjamin and I were surrounded by family.  Delish.  The music was beautiful, and I felt the Spirit.  I love our Marquette ward (congregation)!!!  (Ethan stayed home with Anna and Caleb who were not feeling 100% . . . we want to be especially careful again this winter season.  Pobrecitos.)   

The primary kids dressed up and sang the Nativity song.  Benjamin was the cutest little Shepard you've ever seen.  :)  I like how he's kind of checking everyone else out instead of singing the song (which he didn't know). . . typical three year old, I guess.  hehe.  Oh, and that's me playing the piano. 

Aaaaaand . . . here are two photos of the new house.  Of course it will look cuter when it's summertime and green.  And the backyard pic does a pretty good job showing our awesome yard and deck, but I couldn't get it all in one pic.

We've been working super hard over at the house painting, ripping out carpet (to get to the original maple hardwood floors), fixing, painting some more.  It's been pretty all consuming lately, but it will be so worth it when we're ready to move in . . . and it will look so much better/cleaner!  We feel very blessed with how everything worked out for this house, the deal we got, and the loan we were able to qualify for.  We're just very excited to move in to our own place again and have space for everything and everyone.  But first, more work!  (I'm waiting to show inside pictures for when we're done painting, finishing the hardwood floors, and all moved in.  Then I'll do before and afters.)

So, I kept putting off my Christmas shopping this year, but finally did it last Thursday evening.  (I've never done it this late - I'm usually finished by early November!)  Every time I'd go to the store it would be to pick up house fixing/painting related items.  Then I'd walk in and remember that it's Christmas time, and that I still hadn't done any Christmas shopping.  So, I finally stopped putting it off.  I did it all in one go, multiple stores, and all done in 2 1/2 hours.  I was pleasantly surprised with how fast everything went.  (I hadn't bought one single present before this trip.)  I got all the stocking stuff and presents for the kids (we keep gift giving pretty simple), Ethan's stocking stuff (we're only doing stockings this year for each other to keep it simple and cheap since so much is going in to the house right now), my mom and dad's presents, Ethan's sister, and my brother.  Whew.  Ethan still needs to pick out a couple things for me, and I told him he can pick out presents for his parents this year (he ALWAYS does last minute shopping).  And done!

So, life is pretty busy with trying to get the house ready to move in by January 7th (that's our goal . . . that WILL be met :).  But, I'm still trying to take the time to enjoy holiday cheer with my sweet family.  Like - Muppet Christmas Carol, ginger bread houses, the kiddos Christmas programs at school (pictures to come), watching the Nativity story for family night, etc.  (No sledding yet, since there's even less snow on the ground than the pictures above.  Geesh!)  Hope you're all finding ways to enjoy this beautiful Christmas season!     

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Christmas Spirit . . .

Anna and Benjamin in their pj's, snuggled up with Grampa Dewey, watching the Christmas Devotional on the computer.

A shot of the little tree my parent's put up this year (easier to keep Caleb away from it).  Not a lot of decorating yet, but the white Christmas lights are just perfect.  (Notice the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the computer screen. :)

Final picture of the night - couldn't leave Buddy out! 

Last December was a blur of Ethan being gone alot, Caleb in the NICU and trying to visit him as much as possible, and trying to provide fun Christmas memories for Anna and Ben amidst all the chaos.  And while there were things that were touching and special about last Christmas season, I was hoping this one would be different.  And I guess it is.  Ethan is with us.  Caleb is not in the hospital, but is a healthy little one year old.  Anna and Benjamin have lots of fun Christmas activities happening.  But, I was really, REALLY hoping we'd be all settled in our own place by Christmas.  (And although I haven't given up on that, it looks like it will be a long shot.)  We were supposed to close on our house on November 21st, but it's been pushed back til tomorrow.  *I'll make sure to mention when it's official, and put pictures of the house up then.*  Soooo, that leaves less than three weeks until Christmas to paint, remove carpet, fix/change stuff, move all of our stuff in, AND be unpacked.  I just don't think it's going to happen.  But we'll try our hardest.  :)  I don't want to be so busy and focused on house stuff that we miss out on the joy, and spirit, and magic that is felt this time of year.  

December things we have been enjoying:  We watched the Christmas Devotional online tonight, a church broadcast from SLC, Utah.  It invited the Christmas spirit and the music was beautiful!  (And the kids loved trying to look for Gramma Susan who was attending, as she is visiting my sister Christie in Utah right now.)  We've had a little bit of slushy snow, but nothing I'd really count yet -  the kiddos LOVE it though.  It's so new and exciting every year.  (Except when Benjamin realized that it would get on him and make him wet.  hehe.)  We've helped my mom decorate a little this year, and the kids love playing with her nativity set.  Oh, and another favorite activity is singing Christmas songs in the car when we're driving somewhere.

We're also looking forward to other activities:  Anna's Winter Presentation at school tomorrow, Benjamin's pre-school Christmas program on the 22nd, a Christmas party at church, making ginger bread houses, sledding (once we get some real snow - hopefully by Christmas!), watching some of our favorite Christmas movies - with hot chocolate!, the primary kids are singing in church on the 18th, and I'm singing in church on Christmas day, making Christmas cookies with Anna and Benjamin, focusing on the Christmas story for family night and scriptures, and all the usual fun happenings on Christmas Eve/Day.  

When I read over my "list" I realize we have many wonderful things happening this holiday season.  And I know I shouldn't feel bummed just because we may not be doing some of these things in our own home . . . yet.  That's not what's most important (although it is pretty important to me. :)  So, mostly this journal entry is a reminder that I need to try not to get stressed (about the house . . . I don't really "stress" about Christmas stuff), focus on the most important things, and look for opportunities to invite the true spirit Christmas into our lives.